The folly of the wall

ABC’s David Muir got into a notable exchange with President Donald Trump on the idea of building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico. (Transcript here.) It’s notable because Trump falls back on the bedrock of nonsense and illogical statements to back up his newly signed executive order to move on the wall.

After repeated claims during his 2016 campaign that Mexico will pay for the wall (with nary a shred of evidence for such an idea), it’s quite clear now (as it always was) that if the wall is to be built, it will be funded by Americans. House Speaker Paul Ryan, carrying water like a blind mule for the president, has promised to commit funds to the project. The whole thing is estimated on the low end at around $12 billion to $15 billion. “We have ambitious goals and ambitious timelines,” Ryan said, wincing in pleasure from the force of the president’s hand against his lower intestine.

Unsurprisingly, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has canceled his planned trip to the White House. “I regret and condemn the United States’ decision to continue with the construction of a wall that, for years now, far from uniting us, divides us,” he said in a video statement via Twitter.

In his interview with Muir, Trump repeatedly insisted that the wall needs to be built now — and that the urgency requires American dollars. If we wait two or three years, sure, yeah, Mexico would pay for it – guaranteed! – but we’ve got to build now. Congressional leaders seem only too happy to oblige.

Say what you will about the source of funding; it doesn’t matter terribly much in the end, as Trump’s policies are only going to increase the reach of government (by expediting pipeline construction or instituting temporary/indefinite bans on refugees seeking asylum and human rights). But the wall is a crystalline example of how those policies can and will alter the relative geopolitical calm of North America.

“It is an unprecedented moment for the bilateral relationship,” Genaro Lozano, a professor at the Iberoamerican University in Mexico City, told the New York Times. “In the 19th century, we fought a war with the U.S.; now we find ourselves in a low-intensity war, a commercial one over Nafta and an immigration war due to the measures he just announced.”

No time to vet it, though! With the right ears, you can still hear the chants of “Build that wall!” and “Lock her up!” … probably because your friends and family and neighbors can’t stop cheering on their favorite authoritarian.

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